Back in 1977, the summer after Greg and I were married, we were visiting with his grandparents. They lived just down the road from us south of the tiny town of Noel, Missouri. I don’t remember the exact conversation, however two things contributed to what happened next.
I expressed an appreciation for vintage items and, being newlyweds, Greg’s grandmother was aware that we could use some household items. She gestured down the hill to the old shed and told us to help ourselves to anything in there. It was full of stuff she no longer used or wanted. “Just watch out for spiders!” she called out as we made our way to the old structure.
The shed’s dusty interior was indeed crammed full of a variety of fascinating items. What I wouldn’t give to see all the contents again. Now I would hire a truck and load it all up. Back then I was a bit shy about accepting gifts that were offered to me. On that afternoon, I eyed everything with a practical eye. What could I actually use?
Greg and I spent a happy afternoon, sorting through items in the shed. There were spiders, poisonous brown recluses that can inflict a nasty bite. We tried to ignore them, hoping they would do the same to us. I hauled out items that caught my eye, either because of usability or beauty or both. We received a final approval from Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Bill before we loaded up the car. They waved us on, chuckling over some of my choices.
I still have those items, 40 years later. Many of them are used on a daily basis. The rest are on display or have been repurposed in my backyard garden.
Many of the items I selected were destined for my kitchen. The blue and white enamelware colander gets used so often, draining cooked gluten free pasta or vegetables, that I almost forgot to retrieve it from the dish drainer, to include in tonight’s display. I also use the colander when I pick veggies from my garden and to hold washed veggies as they dry.
I don’t use the vintage ceramic pie plate much anymore, although I make a raw blueberry pie with a cashew and date crust in it occasionally. The colorful plates are from Bauer Pottery in California, and were made in the mid 1950s.
I used the cut glass silverware holder and the small white ceramic toothpick holder when my kids were younger. Both are display items now. And the tiny wooden butter mold is a keepsake as well. The vintage glass pitchers are frequently used. Years ago they held juice or lemonade or black cherry kool-aid. For months after acquiring the pitchers, Greg or I would pick up packets of black cherry flavored kool-aid from the store. I thought it was his favorite flavor, because he always bought it. And he thought it was mine, for the same reason. Finally one day we both admitted that neither of us liked black cherry kool-aid! We never purchased it again, thankfully. Today those pitchers hold ginger water or lemon water.
The old glass canning jars with side wires were made in the 1920s – 1930s, before metal ring lids were common. I’ve used them to hold a variety of dry goods or tea light candles. Greg was able to figure out the age of the Ball jar by the style of the lettering. And the vintage milk bottle and cream bottle still have their original cardboard toppers.
Grandpa Bill worked as a milk delivery man when he was a newlywed and living in Kansas City about 1918. He drove a horse drawn wagon, filled with his customers’ milk orders. He used to tell the story that he would hop out of the wagon to drop bottles of milk on doorsteps and his horse, who knew the route well, would walk on around the corner and wait patiently for him there. Grandma Ruby laughed at me for wanting those bottles…but those old containers are now 100 years old, and I love the story that they represent. These items are for display only.
This afternoon, as I thought about these items, in preparation for writing this post, I realized that these were “wedding gifts”, of the most precious kind, for a young couple who didn’t have much. I’d rather have an old item, even one that is practical, that has a story attached to it, than something new from the store.
Which made me wonder…what did Grandma and Grandpa Moore give us as an actual wedding gift? Money? Dishes? Oh, I remember…they bought us a bed, with a nice set of mattresses. And then I remembered something else. Grandma Ruby made us a tablecloth, for our little second hand dining table that I repainted. Greg reupholstered the chairs. Ironically, my grandmother made us a tablecloth too as a wedding gift, and she was the one who gave us the dining set. I rummaged through my storage chest upstairs, another vintage piece that I will write about soon, and I found both tablecloths.
I haven’t used the tablecloths in many years, but they are still in great shape. The one from Grandma Ruby became the backdrop for the vintage pieces tonight. I can hear that beautiful and grand woman laughing with amusement over my display of items from her old shed, resting on a now vintage tablecloth that she lovingly made. She would be so pleased to know I’ve kept it all. These pieces give me pleasure as well.